Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
By: Cynthia Hand
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Page Count: 389
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Paranormal, Holiday, Classics Inspired
Most people have experienced Charles Dicken's classic, A Christmas Carol, in some format. I have read the original many times, but have always had a particular fondness for Bill Murray's portrayal of Scrooge. Regardless of the form of your experience with the Scrooge lore, we are all familiar with Scrooge's utter lack of holiday spirit and disdain for his fellow man. Sadly, this is not just something that is experienced in fiction. There have even been holiday seasons when the stress of work and life have kept me from reveling in the merriment. We all get beaten down from time to time, but what sets those moments apart from a true Scrooge are the attempts to move beyond the negative and focus on others.
Holly Chase is the ultimate modern day Scrooge. She's had her fair share of tragedy in her young life, but it doesn't give her an excuse to be such a mean girl to her classmates and family. She thrives on making people, like her housekeeper, absolutely miserable. She cares more about makeup, hair color, and name brands that making a difference in the world. She has lost all of her friends and rarely sees her father since he is an in demand film maker in Hollywood. Holly pretends that's it no big deal that her mom died of cancer, her stepmother died after a surgical incident, and her Dad is always on the go. Holly has built a wall around her heart and keeps everyone at bay. Her best friend has dumped her and the housekeeper would probably peace out too if she didn't need the paycheck to take care of her daughter.
Holly doesn't see anything wrong with the way she's living - even when the famous ghosts from Dickens' tale show up to warn her. Nothing truly wakes her up until she finds herself dead from a freak accident outside of her yoga studio and winds up working for Project Scrooge in New York City. Project Scrooge is Holly's shot at redemption. Each year the company identifies a Scrooge who is in need of saving. They want to make the world a better place, one nasty person at a time. Holly is cast into the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past. She finds her life as a "well preserved zombie" to be lackluster. She misses having the funds to do as she pleases, but everything changes the year that Ethan is chosen as the Scrooge. This will be the first time that Holly has had to work to save someone around her own age.
As the Ghost of Christmas Past, Holly is able to get into a person's mind to see their memories to help identify the people and events of their past that will make a difference in trying to alter their future. This experience leads her to go off script while she learns more about herself than she ever thought possible.
Part Christmas classic, part Scrooged, with a dash of Mean Girls, The Afterlife of Holly Chase will have you taking a good look at your actions this holiday season. I, for one, will be a little kinder to my fellow man and offer seasons greetings or a smile to all. A little kindness goes a long way and you never know how much of an impact a positive interaction with someone can impact their day. The world would be a much better place if we all were a little nicer and more understanding. I encourage you to give this read over the holiday season.
One Last Gripe: The beginning was a little slow.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved how Project Scrooge was structured. I'd love to see this novel as a holiday movie.
First Sentence: "Man of the worldly mind!" replied the Ghost, "do you believe in me or not?"
Favorite Character: Boz
Least Favorite Character: Holly - she grows on you, but it took time for me to like her, which makes sense as I had the same feelings about Scrooge in the original tale
On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.
And then she died.
Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.
Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.
But this year, everything is about to change. . . .